On This Day: ‘The Rock’ Starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage Premieres in 1996

by Jon D. B.
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On June 7, 1996, one of the late Sean Connery‘s most beloved action epics hit theaters. Co-starring Nicholas Cage, The Rock would become a smash cult hit for the ages.

Fans, friends, and family the world over are still mourning the loss of Hollywood icon Sean Connery. His October 31, 2020 passing at age 90 came after one of the most remarkable lives in entertainment history.

Through it all, his work as film’s original James Bond stands supreme. One unsuspecting hit, however, remains a fan-favorite and pop culture classic to this day: 1996’s The Rock.

As with many films of its kind, The Rock would receive mixed reviews from critics upon release. Many weren’t sure what to make of the bombastic action this thriller brought to audiences. Said audiences, however, loved every minute of it.

The film would make over $335 million at the box office, turning a massive profit over its $75 million budget. This is the equivalent of almost $600 million today – more than most movie studios will ever even fathom for a release.

As such, the Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage, and Ed Harris-led action flick became the fourth highest-grossing film of 1996. It would also receive a nomination for “Best Sound” at the 69th Academy Awards.

Under director Michael Bay – now infamous for his brand of explosions on explosions – The Rock saw the U.S.’s Pentagon assign a slew of varying experts to break into Alcatraz – the film’s titular Rock – in order to save the hundreds of tourists held hostage there.

Critics be Damned: ‘The Rock’ is Sean Connery at His Finest

Things escalate quickly, as one would expect in a Michael Bay thriller. And through it all, Sean Connery utterly shines as SAS Captain John Patrick Mason. Connery’s British national was incarcerated on Alcatraz himself in 1962 – only to escape in 1963. The U.S. government enlists his help to save said tourists, leading to one of the icon’s best acting performances of all time.

The Rock may not be one of Connery’s most well-respected ventures by critics, but by all accounts it is a sort of action masterpiece all its own.

This does not mean, however, that all critics sought fault in The Rock. In fact, Roger Ebert himself touted the film as “a first-rate, slam-bang action thriller with a lot of style and no little humor” upon release.

Another prolific film critic of his time, Richard Corliss, wrote in kind for Time, praising The Rock as “Slick, brutal and almost human, this is the team-spirit action movie Mission: Impossible should have been.”

Eat your heart out, Tom Cruise. You, too, Sean Connery fans, courtesy of the fantastic first trailer for 1996’s The Rock below.

Check out the official trailer for The Rock (1996) starring Sean Connery!

Classic Trailer

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